Iran intensifies crackdown as reformists rally

By June 18, 2009

Iran (MNN/ODM) — Iran is
facing growing anger over the election results last week in which President
Ahmadinejad was declared the winner. News
reports show supporters of Mirhossein Mousavi streaming through the streets of Iran's capital in protest. At the same
time, the government is putting heavy restrictions on the coverage.

Yet, Christians are joining the
Twitter Revolution and using Facebook to get information out of Iran. Open Doors learned through its contacts that
voters are frustrated and have lost trust in Iran's democracy in other cities
outside of Tehran.

Iranian Christian Daryush (not
his real name) from Shiraz reported: "In my neighborhood there is no evidence
of any skirmishes or demonstrations and also no celebration from the elections
anymore. The streets have been swept clean. But the evidence that we have
trouble in Shiraz is the constant presence of the various security forces and
the military helicopter I saw flying overhead. But I have only driven around my
own neighborhood, so I can't speak for the entire city."

In other districts of this
southwest city of Shiraz, the situation is more grim as Daryush explains: "Friends
told me that young people in Shiraz are being arrested and that they've seen
young men and women being beaten, or worse. A friend who lives near the
university and student dorms told me she heard screaming, shouting and gunfire
in the early hours of the morning.

"The predominately young
demonstrators are calling Ahmadinejad a dictator, and they yell chants like 'Ma
dolate zoor nemikhaim,' meaning 'We don't want a government of force.' They also
yell at the security forces and call them traitors and vote-stealers. A friend
said that within the security forces are pro-Mousavi followers, saying 'beechareh shodim!' or 'We are without hope.'"

Daryush continues: "The majority
of people I spoke with consider the elections a fraud and don't accept the results
at all. A friend of our family lives in Shahe Cheragh, which is a predominantly
religious and conservative district of Shiraz. He said that even in that
district, a huge numbers of votes went to Mousavi."

Carl Moeller with
Open Doors notes
the parallel to what happened in the Tiananmen Square uprising twenty years
ago. "The government did use extreme force and clamp down on the
demonstration. However, the momentum that that demonstration ignited brought
about the greatest revival in the church in China and also a sense of

Open Doors spokesman John Fox observes that Christians in
general voted Mousavi, and they hope for new elections: "We cannot generalize our observations
to all Christians, but we asked 29 Christians from Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan
and all voted for Mousavi. One of them says, ‘For us, bad is better than worse.
Mousavi also promised more religious freedom, so I hope he does not lie.'"

Moeller thinks this could be a
pivotal point in the history of Iran and the future of believers who live
there. It's important to keep praying for them. "One of the co-workers that we have
there is saying, 'We're not sure right now what the effect of the pressure will
be on the church. It can be both
extremes–more pressure to keep control, or earn trust with the people by giving
more liberty.' The reality is, we just
have to wait and see."

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